This morning, I spent nearly two hours in the dentist's chair. He attacked Upper Left 5 for the third time (the first two attempts having yielded no result), and gouged out an enormous filling from Lower Left 5, refilled, fitted a temporary crown and sent me on my way, trembling.
Which is why I want to talk to you about sprouts. For the benefit of our North American readers - how are you both? - I should explain that I am talking about Brussel Sprouts, not that curious stuff you call sprouts, which has the texture of wire netting and the aroma of stale silage.
In my country - I love that phrase! - in my country, sprouts come into their own in autumn, preparing themselves for the BIG DAY, ie, Christmas Day, when they can snuggle up to a turkey and a stack of roast potatoes.
We all believe that sprouts only taste good once they have had the first frost in them. Well, given that London had snow yesterday, the first October snow since 1932, and given that my brass monkey has applied to the Sudanese Embassy for asylum, I think the sprouts are ready for eating.
I used to watch my mother preparing sprouts. She would cut the base of the sprout, peel off any nasty outer leaves, and then cut a criss-cross in the stalk, presumably to help to soften it.
So I do the same. Inherited characteristics, or what? I can imagine this practice going back through generations of the France family. I can imagine Imogene de France preparing sprouts for the longbowmen at Agincourt. I bet that helped us win: flatulence can be a powerful weapon.
So, what has this to do with Upper Left 5 and Lower Left 5? Well, I have a weakness for RAW sprouts, despite the gaseous implications, but tonight, I decided to forgo that pleasure. Just this once - don't want to disengage the temporary filling in UL5.